Batman/Poison Ivy: Cast Shadows

 BPIS   (DC, 2004)

™ and © 2004 DC Comics, Inc.

Perhaps the best characterization of The Beautiful Botanist since “Home and Garden” from season two of Batman: The Animated Series, Batman/Poison Ivy: Cast Shadows is a fertile entry in the ubiquitous subgenre of prestige format Batman books. Written by Ann Nocenti (creator of Daredevil nemesis Typhoid Mary) with paintings by John Van Fleet (who collaborated with Nocenti on the Typhoid mini-series), the story and art are a pleasingly toxic mix of realism and surrealism, sanity and madness.

The plot involves a corporate magnate constructing a gargantuan skyscraper in the middle of Gotham City. The problem with this structure is that it is so huge that it casts mammoth shadows over certain areas of the city, including the window of Poison Ivy’s cell at Arkham Asylum. Deprived of light, Pretty Poison lashes out, resulting in an interesting tangle between big business, Batman, and botany. Ivy’s primary attributes—toxic lips, genius with plants, and rarified beauty—are used in this story with creativity and intelligence.

Cast Shadows brings to mind an old Rush song written by drummer Neil Peart. Titled “The Trees,” the ditty begins: “There is unrest in the Forest. There is trouble with the trees. For the maples want more sunlight. And the oaks ignore their pleas.”

— Brett Weiss

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ca. 2004Ann NocentiJohn Van Fleet